We sat down with Gianguido Pasquetti, fondly called Ghigo by friends and family, and owner of the celebrated restaurant Buca Mario to talk about tradition, building a brand and the thriving Florentine food scene.
Words by Jennifer Papa - Photography by Dario Garofalo
What is the most important ingredient in your kitchen?
Without a doubt, it is respect for tradition. In today’s world, where innovations and fast news dominate the front pages, we treasure slow living and recreating age-old and traditional recipes.
People often associate food with emotions. Most of us have fond mealtime memories from when we were children. Is there a particular dish that takes you back?
Homemade lasagna is a dish that makes me smile most in terms of family meals and gives me a healthy appetite.
What is Buca Mario’s signature dish?
Our kitchen serves many delicious dishes. We have an outstanding selection of meats, particularly the renown Florentine steak (Bistecca alla Fiorentina), which is our pièce de résistance.
More than a fair number of celebrities have dined at your restaurant. Care to indulge in some name dropping?
Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, Dan Brown, Brian May, Justin Bieber, Billie Joel and Anthony Hopkins. The list is quite long.
Every evening, before you open, pleasure-seeking food aficionados stand in line for a seat at your restaurant. How did you build Buca Mario’s reputation?
In our case, PASSION is the key ingredient in building a trusted brand among foodies. The job of a restaurateur, those working in the kitchen and the serving staff is quite challenging. For our hard work and ambitions in terms of quality to be evident to our guests we must possess an authentic passion for our profession and food.
Every successful restaurateur must…
…Non adagiarsi mai sugli allori, which means that you should not become complacent or “rest on your laurels”.
The Florentine food scene is bursting with new restaurants, many of which maintain a high standard. Is greater competition good or bad for business?
Higher standards can only benefit and enhance the splendor of Florence. Remember that art is found in places other than museums and cathedrals. In fact, high-quality cuisine is a work of art. As a restaurateur it’s my duty and pleasure to cherish and share this palate-teasing art form.
What’s next for you and Buca Mario?
I believe that the present, lived to its fullest, is the only future that matters.
When you have the evening off do you rush to your favorite restaurant or do you prefer a home-cooked meal?
My idea of a perfect evening off is one spent at home in the company of my family and friends.
Say you’re hosting a dinner party for a close group of friends. What will you serve?
Easy. Pappardelle with wild boar ragout followed by a delicious steak.
One last question. How do you dress to greet your dinner guests?
A comfortable laid-back look that breathes quality is my style of choice: a cashmere blazer, maybe in an oversized check, paired with a custom made shirt in denim, cotton trousers and a pair of comfortable shoes works around-the-clock. My wife helps me assemble my outfits and to celebrate the art of slow living I turn to my trusted tailor Sartoria Vanni.